BIM (building information modeling) has long been discussed as a way for construction companies to improve building by using collaborative processes. Such tools for models and design also provide the buyer with of view of what the structure will look like, but what if that could be taken one step further—and printed out into a 3D model?

3D printing offers the construction industry many benefits including visualization of the structure, improved communication and a better way to engage the owner, and the ability to test the orientation of the home in the sunlight. Now, homebuilders have one more option for 3D printing.

Last week, The Plan Collection, www.theplancollection.com, Stamford, Conn., announced its new 3D printing of house plans will enable customers to print out a physical 3D house plan model. The technology converts CAD (computer-aided design) blueprints into an actual physical model of a home.

For homebuilders, this means being able to see a 360-degree view of the house plan from both external and internal perspectives and offers much more detail of the actual home than blueprint images and renderings. The company says the to-scale model will allow users to quickly understand how floors work together as a whole.

The company’s President and Chief Operating Officer James McNair points to an interesting use case of the technology: Homebuilders can take the 3D printed model to the building site to determine the best orientation of the house to the elements.

What’s more, in addition to providing a visual for homebuyers, the technology can also improve communication and engage the customers.

The potential opportunities for 3D printing in the construction industry are vast. Going forward, homebuilders might want to consider how technology such as this could play a role in building processes in the future.